- Developer: Splash Damage
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC
Brink was one of the few FPS games that had my attention for this year – recently I’ve found myself getting fatigued with the genre – especially after last years Christmas releases with Medal of Honor (urgh), Halo: Reach and after having played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 throughout most of 2010. I was so bored of shooters in general that I couldn’t even muster up the motivation to finish playing Uncharted: Drakes Fortune which I rented last month.
So I was interested in Brink because at face value it offered something different from the crowd – team based play, an interesting mix of competitive and co-operative modes, and parkour running which I thought could make an FPS more interesting than simply running through rooms and corridors.
Brink is a team based shooter that plays similarly to Team Fortress 2 – there are four different classes – Soldier, Medic, Engineer and Operative, all with distinct roles to play in a match. Soldiers can plant demolition charges and can replenish ammunition for team mates, Medics can heal and revive injured team mates as well as being able to give them other buffs like increasing their sprint speed or raising the speed that their health regenerates. Engineers can boost the power of weapons and they can deploy turrets and mines. Operatives can disguise themselves as the enemy and can hack in to enemy communications.
It’s unfortunate that with all of this that Brink feels like a rushed mess – it doesn’t take a genius to realise that Brink is a game that could have spent much more time in development. As much as I really want to like Brink, and as much as I really want to tell everyone to go out and buy it I just can’t. Not in its current state.
First things first there’s a campaign mode that you can play with up to seven of your friends. 8 player co-operative play is impressive given that most games only allow for about 2 or 4 players – but it’s not so impressive when you realise that co-operative games are basically player vs bot matches that you’d otherwise play in multiplayer. The campaign is similar to offerings that you’d find in a game like Unreal Tournament 3.
If you find that you can’t get a group of 8 people together then the rest of your team will be buffed out with bots to play for you – but with my experience you’ll almost wish that they weren’t there. Bots consistently walk in front of your line of fire – and although there’s no friendly fire it still stops your bullets from reaching the target. The AI often doesn’t go for objectives – and in some cases I found that the AI would just sit around at unimportant areas of the map rather than trying to help out with the objective.
Enemy AI is a different story though – it’s not the smartest in the world but your foes will stick together and use their numbers as a way of trying to beat you – they can be lethal if they catch you off guard but at times I found that the enemy AI was just staring at me without making an effort to start attacking me. At times I even had enough time to deploy a turret right in front of an enemy that was staring straight at me.
Playing with more than four human players at the moment seems almost impossible due to some of the unbearable lag that the game suffers from – a patch is on the way to fix this, but I’d still hold out on buying Brink until the public can confirm that everything is running smoothly. Regardless – I can’t help but wonder how a multiplayer game got released when you can’t even play it online.
Another baffling design decision are the Command Posts – which are computer terminals placed on the map where you can change your class and your weapons – while this sounds like a good idea at first it never really works out well. The AI will constantly whinge about them, and it doesn’t allow for much flexibility when choosing your class.
There are three body types in Brink – light, medium and heavy. As you might expect the light class is quick on his feet, the heavy is slow but can take more damage, and the medium class tries to give you a mix of the two – favouring neither speed or health. The medium class is the only class you’ll really bother with but there’s no way to change your body type in game – not even when you’re waiting to respawn after you’ve died. If you want to change your body class then you have to quit all the way out to the main menu.
Another odd design decision are the challenges that you can take – which are aimed to teach you how to play the game. However you also need to play these if you want to unlock attachments for your weapons (like red dot sights, silencers and so on). These modes can be played co-operatively but you won’t unlock anything unless you play the game solo – and neither the game or the game manuel inform you of this.
Brink is a perfect example of a good idea executed poorly – the campaign and multiplayer showed promise, but through a lack of maps, modes, and general polish it proves to be a huge letdown – a real shame since this was one of my most anticipated shooters of this year. The performance issues that have plagued the game since release day will no doubt have a negative impact on the numbers of people that play it. Releasing a multiplayer game that you can’t even play with other people is unacceptable – and Brink will suffer as a result. Even when (if) the lag issues are fixed I’m not sure that I could recommend this game to people – I certainly couldn’t recommend paying over £15 for it at the least.
What the game looks like
Brink in action
Good: Visual style that’s not commonly seen in shooters, team based gameplay
Bad: Terrible lag when playing with 4+ players, all the weapons are basically the same, small number of levels, parkour system never really comes in to play.